Salmonl Killed by Pumps -- But It Could Be Good

The tens of thousands of fish caught and killed in Delta water pumps could mean that the fish population is on the rise, according to experts.

By Chris Roberts
|  Tuesday, May 17, 2011  |  Updated 4:17 PM PDT
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Salmonl Killed by Pumps -- But It Could Be Good

NBC Philadelphia

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Tens of thousands of fish were caught in the water pumps that send Delta water to Southern California and killed this year, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, according to wildlife experts.

The bodies of thousands of salmon and tens of thousands of Sacramento splittail were found in the south Delta pumps. But a large amount of dead fish means that there's been a spike in the overall fish population -- which is good, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"They're finding a lot because there's a lot out there," spokesman Steve Martarano told the Contra Costa Times.

Splittail populations spike during wet winters, such as the one the Bay Area experienced this past winter.

Operators of the huge water pumps must monitor how many fish are caught in the machinery and killed. 83,000 splittail were caught in the pumps on Sunday alone, the newspaper reported.

Spring-run salmon are an endangered species and are protected until environmental laws. But it's likely that the dead salmon were fall-run salmon, and ergo not protected, the newspaper surmised.

Thousands of salmon were caught in the pumps. The habitat for salmon is good this year, biologists said, meaning the fish are bigger than normal.

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